Researchers define abortion stigma as “a shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable.” Stigma creates discomfort around abortion, which contributes to misinformation and lack of knowledge about abortion. That misinformation and pervasive stigma is weaponized to build and maintain barriers to abortion — like laws that restrict access, institutions (like insurance companies and medical schools) that limit knowledge, and popular media that perpetuates misleading representations. In fact, anti-abortion advocates readily fill this information void with inflammatory dis-information.
Stigma harms people who’ve had abortions and people who provide abortions. It causes shame, silence, and isolation. It makes it harder for people to get care or ask for support when they need an abortion. Stigma perpetuates outdated expectations of gender, contributing to gender norms that harm women, people assigned female at birth, and people with feminine gender expressions.